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Archive for June, 2010

Running Off At The Electronic Mouth, No. XI

When Joel Zumaya’s right arm became about as useful as silverware to a bear on Monday night, did anyone else have flashbacks to Tony Saunders? That was the first thing that popped into my head. When I saw the squeamish moment, I actually said to myself, “I hope he didn’t Tony Saunders himself.” When you become a verb, you’ve done something memorable. Even if it does cost an amazing amount of pain.

Zumaya is just 25 years old and as Cole Hamels and Chris Reitsma have proven, a broken bone while delivering a pitch doesn’t have to be a career-ender. But even when his rehabilitation is complete, you have to wonder how this will mentally burden Zumaya when he next throws off a mound. There’s nothing about his throwing motion he can change to lessen his chances of a repeat while not also compromising his status as a major leaguer. If he loses his velocity, he’s probably out of a job. Next year, he has to simply get back on the bump and throw. He needs to understand that a second break would be extremely rare. But not impossible. Right, Tony? I wonder if that .00001 percent chance will haunt him forever.

Luke Scott probably needs to stretch a little more. Home run fail.

I adore Gary Thorne’s flawless transition from homer to injury. He hardly pauses between “Home run!” and “Luke Scott has hurt himself rounding the bases.” He doesn’t have time to lower the excitement in his voice and he just sounds really pleased about both developments.

But at least we have a new leader in the Tater Trot Tracker clubhouse.

Things that shouldn’t bother me, but really do: This commercial for the 2010 MLB All-Star Game.

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Why Are Sports Championship Hats So Damn Gaudy?

June 29, 2010 2 comments

DISCLAIMER: I am a comfortably heterosexual male. I like women.

I also have a fashion sense. Just remember that first line as you read this post

I received my Los Angeles Lakers 2010 NBA Champions hat a few days ago. Actually, I didn’t think I was going to get one. It was a gift from my father.

The thought of a gift is always grand, but even if I knew someone whose team had just won a pro sports championship, I would never buy them the official hat signifying the event. I just wouldn’t know how to answer one question:

How could someone wear this and not look ridiculous?

People want to feel like they are part of the team. That’s one of the reasons why grown men fight 8-year-old girls for foul balls and towels thrown into the stands (also read: money). Anything athletes will toss our way — be it a wrist band, ball, strand of hair, protective cup — we’ll step on our grandmother’s throat to get at it. That cap above was worn by the Lakers on the court and in the locker room after defeating the Celtics in Game 7 a couple of weeks ago. So, it’s an obviously hot seller.

But just look at it. It’s horrible. It’s crowded. What is “NBA” doing in the lower case? For some reason, that really bothers me. Now, I don’t mind that whole “Back 2 Back” patch in the middle. That’s how the Lakers format their championship banners. But if you are more than eight feet away from that hat, could you really tell me which team this hat is celebrating? You can’t see it! You can make out 2010 NBA (or nba, whatever) Champions, but shouldn’t the Lakers logo be displayed more prominently? It is their championship. Instead, this hat is too busy blinding you with the word “Champions”.

This isn’t an isolated case. Most championship hats are ugly as sin. Just looking in my bedroom, here are a few I found.

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June 23, 2010: What An Amazing Day In Sports

June 24, 2010 2 comments

These ESPN “30 for 30” movies are really special. They spark all kinds of emotions and, collectively, the series is the best original programming ESPN has offered since at least “Playmakers“.

On Wednesday, I was watching the documentary about June 17, 1994. That day had every sort of sports story you could want. The World Cup begins in Chicago. Arnold Palmer plays his last U.S. Open round. Ken Griffey Jr. ties the record for fastest to 30 home runs. The New York Rangers hold their Stanley Cup parade. The Knicks and Rockets play Game 5 of the NBA Finals. And O.J. Simpson is indicted on charges of double homicide (aka, white Bronco chase).

I remember exactly where I was that day. My parents, a cousin and myself spent the majority of it at Six Flags Magic Mountain. We had no idea about the Simpson pursuit until we got home and saw the chase on TV, but if he had left the park just 20 minutes later, we probably would have passed that famed Ford going in the opposite direction.

That day had up to six top stories. But look at what we’ve experienced in the past 24 hours. It doesn’t match that date 16 years ago, but it was pretty momentous.

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All Apologies to Jeff Bagwell, But Mark Teixeira Is Climbing Up My ‘Favorite Player’ List

June 24, 2010 2 comments

I’ve been a Yankees fan since my parents brainwashed me as an infant since before I can remember. But I could never really say that a Yankee was my most favorite player for an extended time. I like Jeter and Bernie and O’Neill, but none of them were ever my No. 1. When I was in grade school, Jeff Bagwell was my boy. He was just so damn underrated playing in Houston. I marveled at his awkward batting stance and how he uncoiled all that power.

Of course, considering the era in which he played, his paint can-like build and his close friendship with Ken Caminiti, I most likely admired a juicer. But when you’re 10, it’s easy to play the naive card.

These days, it is Zack Greinke whom I love most. I think I’ve made that pretty clear in this blog.

But on Tuesday, Mark Teixeira — I only know how to spell his last name because of Nelly — made a sudden jump up after I read this story.

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Running Blog For Game 6 Of The 2010 NBA Finals

June 15, 2010 2 comments

Last chance to dance

After a healthy 36 hours of hearing and reading people bash the Lakers here in Los Angeles, the NBA Finals resume with this one thought in my mind:

I thought this series would go seven games. Many other people who know what they are talking about thought this series would go seven games. So, the Lakers, for as bad as they’ve played, need to win just a single game on their home floor to set this series right back on track.

Here’s the problem with that scenario: Celtics have looked quicker for the last two games. They’ve been tougher, they’ve jumped higher. Simply, they have wanted it more and they have gotten it. Their defense is suffocating all Lakers not named Kobe Bryant, which is just fine with them. Kobe can score 40, but if Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and anyone else aren’t going to get more than 10 or 12, Boston will take it every day.

Also, the Lakers defense has been more than bad lately. Worthless. Reprehensible. Horrific. More than bad. The Celtics shot almost 66 percent in the first half of Game 5 and then were even better for most of the following quarter. This Celtics team that was thought to be too old and too small is beating the Lakers to all the loose balls and seeing their 6-foot-1 guard jump over players 5-8 inches taller to grab rebounds.

The Lakers, who were thought to be too talented, too skilled and too quick, have lost their guts. They look intimidated, much like in 2008. They are cowering in the face of a bully.

And yet, one win will make everything even.

5:48 p.m. Lakers are 9-1 in the postseason at home, but that one loss was at the hands of the Celtics in Game 2. They haven’t lost back-to-back playoff home games in nearly a decade.

5:49 p.m. The officiating really bears watching tonight. It’s always important and the officials have gotten a lot of (rightful) flack in this series, but remember Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. In one of the greatest NBA playoff series ever, the Lakers trailed in the series, 3-2, going back home. That game is widely considered to be one of the worst officiated games in NBA history. The Lakers won Game 6 and then won an amazing Game 7 in Sacramento.

I have an inkling that the officials are going to be siding with the Lakers tonight. I know it sounds cheap, but you know the NBA wants this series to go to the maximum.

5:55 p.m. Christina Aguilera can really sing, but why does she look like a ghost?

5:59 p.m. I’ve been mostly wrong in these finals, but I think the Lakers win tonight. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?

But the most valuable player of this game has to be Pau Gasol. Kobe will get his points and make his miraculous shots, but Gasol needs to have a 25-15 game. Just play with some emotion, some urgency, some desire and will.

6:02 p.m. I almost didn’t do this running blog tonight, because I wanted to capture the scene downtown by the Staples Center. But I believe I’ll be given another chance to do that before Game 7.

And I just care too damn much about my readers : ) )

6:04 p.m. The Celtics just need to keep on keeping on. Playing that great defense, attacking those loose balls, sending out those crisp passes and running when it’s needed. They’ve done it so well in the previous two games, there is no secret to how they will try to play tonight.

6:06 p.m. AND HERE WE GO!! IT’S TIME FOR A … re-jump. Great.

Lakers win the second tip and now … here we go.

6:08 p.m. Tough shot and miss by Kobe, nice outlet from Rondo and a quick layup by Garnett gets the Cs on the board first.

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How Can This Be Even Considered A Dirty Or Needless Play?

Here’s another question: When will the Los Angeles Angels present TV broadcast that’s worth a damn?

Certainly anyone is an upgrade from Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler, and while Mark Gubicza has been a solid analyst, I’m not very fond of Victor Rojas. Rojas, who was a hurried replacement for the late Rory Markas, has been way too much of a homer in a region that doesn’t appreciate very biased broadcasting and has shown some poor baseball knowledge for a son of a former major leaguer.

That was no more evident than last night, when Rojas said this slide from Casey McGehee should have never happened.

I’m not exactly sure what Rojas wanted to see there. McGehee headed into his slide less than one step before Erick Aybar began to be pulled off the bag due to the bad throw from first. As was heard in the clip, Rojas expected McGehee to see Aybar halt his slide. How does he expect that to happen??? It’s Casey McGehee running at full speed. He’s not exactly known for his fluid body movement and quickness. But that’s beside the point. Once a player commits to a slide at that speed, it’s impossible to move your body off course.

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Running Blog For Game 5 Of The 2010 NBA Finals

Of the past 25 NBA Finals series that were tied 2-2, the winning team from Game 5 has gone on to win the championship 19 times. So tonight’s game will give either the Lakers or Celtics a 76 percent chance of raising a banner.

Or maybe just a better chance. All those odds are overrated anyway.

I do think the Lakers will find a way to win tonight.

4:55 p.m. Bynum has to be somewhat effective for the Lakers to have a good chance tonight. Twenty minutes or so would be a real pleasure and a benefit for them. He and Odom and Gasol … rebounds, rebounds, rebounds! Rebounding is important for both teams, but Boston has really dominated a couple of games on the glass. That can’t continue for LA.

In the fourth quarter, actually run an offensive set with passes. Stop with this Kobe one-on-one stuff. I’ll keep screaming that the Lakers must make sure Gasol touches the ball on a majority of fourth-quarter possessions. I just know it won’t happen.

4:58 p.m. For Boston, you’ve got to feel pretty good because the Celtics have played four games, are even with the Lakers are really haven’t played one great game where everyone gets involved. They haven’t played their best basketball in this series.

Can Glen Davis keep being so spectacular? The Lakers must find a way to shut him down offensively at the baseline and keep him out of the paint when it comes to rebounding.

5:06 p.m.Rivers: “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” Wow, a good soundbite from a coach during a pre-game speech for once.

5:07 p.m. Bynum air-balls the first shot of the game and less than a minute in, Boston’s out to a 4-0 lead.

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